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Jubilation and heartbreak felt by fans gives lie to the idea that football would not matter much when it returned

Eamonn Sweeney


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Swansea players celebrate after a 4-1 victory over Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Wednesday night which saw them qualify for the Championship play-offs. Photo: Naomi Baker

Swansea players celebrate after a 4-1 victory over Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Wednesday night which saw them qualify for the Championship play-offs. Photo: Naomi Baker

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Swansea players celebrate after a 4-1 victory over Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Wednesday night which saw them qualify for the Championship play-offs. Photo: Naomi Baker

There were moments in the past eight days that made you forget everything but the football in front of you. The one on Saturday last when, as Arsenal seemed about to crack under the immense pressure exerted by Manchester City, Kieran Tierney played the most glorious ball down the left to give Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a run on goal and the Gabonese striker strode on before steering the ball under Ederson with the casual ease of a man slipping a letter into a post box.

The one on Tuesday when Aston Villa 'keeper Pepe Reina, glancing behind him and surely expecting to see Eddie Nketiah's header nestling in the net, saw it come back off the inside of the post instead and in his gratitude almost fumbled it across the line before grabbing it just in time to preserve his side's lead over the Gunners.

And above all, the moment on Wednesday when Andy Robertson, just outside his own six-yard box, headed a cross out and Curtis Jones, on the edge of the area, played the ball out to Sadio Mane, who carried it down the right before releasing Robertson to power forward and whip in a low cross that Jones stepped past before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rattled the ball home for a goal which seemed both a summation of and exclamation mark at the end of an immortal season in the same way that Carlos Alberto's goal for Brazil against Italy was 50 years ago.